BALTIMORE — The Enoch Pratt Free Library is proud to partner with the University of Maryland School of Social Work to bring the “Social Worker in the Library” program to Baltimore. The new initiative brings graduate student social work interns into several library branches to help customers address issues such as poverty, food insecurity, homelessness and addiction.
“Every day Baltimore residents in need of vital government services walk through the doors of our libraries,” said Pratt Library President and CEO Heidi Daniel. “Offering connections to these services inside a strong community anchor, like the library will make a difference in so many lives and contribute to the long-term health of our city.”
“When two Baltimore anchor institutions combine forces, great ideas can become powerful programs,” said Richard P. Barth, Ph.D., MSW, dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. “We are delighted to provide expertise and direct services to assist the many library visitors who have social and behavioral health challenges that can be addressed with effective support. In so doing, this program will help the Enoch Pratt Free Library continue to be a national leader in library services.”
The pilot program begins this fall in the Hamilton, Brooklyn, and Pennsylvania Avenue branches, as well as the Southeast Anchor Library. The social work interns will be in the libraries at least two days a week providing one-on-one counseling to customers, conducting programs to serve the community, and training library staff on topics such as crisis management and positive engagement.
“Libraries, often embedded in the community serve as urban sanctuaries, contain natural support systems, and remain a safe place to find answers to questions and to acquire resources. What a fantastic opportunity to merge these important community-based organizations with the practice of social work,” said Lane A. Victorson, clinical instructor with the UMB Social Work Community Outreach Service. “Social work students, guided by a licensed, seasoned social worker, will enhance the capacity of these important mediating institutions to provide both relief and life-changing services.”
Funding for this program is being provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as PNC Foundation, the Bunting Family Foundation and Greif Family Foundation.